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LSN Country Directors Campaign at U.N.

Four LSN Country Directors participated in the U.N. meetings on the Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities. Anne Hayes and Nerina Cevra, two LSN program staff, spoke with SURVIVOR REPORT about the participation of each country director.

SR: Why did LSN have the Network Directors come to the treaty negotiations in New York?

Anne Hayes (AH): Having the country directors there was very important.

Nerina Cevra (NC): It was a huge learning experience for them. Now they have an inside knowledge that positions them more as leaders of disability rights issues in each of their countries. They can go back to their ministries and say, “Well, did you know, actually what it says is THIS…” A lot of the countries don’t have the funds to send a delegation to the U.N., so the people representing a country may be not as invested in the outcome as a person with a disability. Back in their countries the government is waiting for someone who has first-hand knowledge, and it’s great to put the directors in that kind of position.

SR: Tell me about the role of Adnan Al Aboudi, the LSN Director from Jordan.

AH: This time Mr. Aboudi served as a government representative at the negotiations, on behalf of the government of Jordan. Officially, only governments have a say in the convention process. Everything a government says is put up on a big white board on a computer. Everyone else can comment on what is on the board, but an NGO is not usually going to change what’s been put up on the board by a government. That is why it was so important for LSN to have a regional representative. Mr. Aboudi can go out and say, for instance, to the government of South Africa, “This is my view on rehabilitation,” as someone who has lived through it. Where else are these governments going to get that kind of perspective? Mr. Aboudi was there officially as part of the Jordanian delegation, so whatever he had to say was typed up and put up on the board for consideration.

SR: What was the role of Manuel Chauque, the LSN Director from Mozambique?

NC: This was Mr. Chauque’s first time at the U.N. meetings. He did a really good job of lobbying. Someone can explain and explain how this process works, but until you really get in there and experience it, and sit in on these meetings, you can’t really understand. Chauque developed a great relationship with the representative from Namibia, as well as other African delegates. He intervened a number of times on LSN’s behalf, recommending the language LSN had drafted for consideration, so that was really great.

SR: How was the role of Plamenko Priganica, the LSN Director from Bosnia, different this time?

NC: Mr. Priganica was there last year, so he’d gotten into the groove of how things work. He is more involved in the Balkan issues now, and more people know him. So when he’s talking to people from those countries, he can bring up certain people from the foreign ministry that they all know. He has that part of it down. He is very good at lobbying, which is, frankly, a lot of conversation and dialogue. He did a presentation on the right to health, peer support, and the right to rehabilitation. He also did a public intervention specifically on Article 18 (Participation in Political and Public Life). He read it in English, which he was really proud of. The group of NGOs participating in the convention process has a coordinating body called a Steering Committee, where Priganica did a great job representing LSN on this steering committee.

SR: What was Bekele Gonfa’s role, as the LSN Director from Ethiopia?

AH: Ethiopia’s government delegation was not really present, as Ethiopia has a very small office at the U.N. This was Bekele’s first experience at the U.N. He did a really good job of connecting with the Kenyan delegation, which is very large. It was really good to know what the Kenyans were thinking and to have that close relationship. Bekele also gave an intervention, even though English is not his first language, and he did a great job.

Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2004

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